FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - South Floridians are bracing themselves for an increase in tourism traffic during Labor Day weekend, as doctors expressed concerns that the celebrations could lead to a spike in coronavirus cases.
Despite a decrease in positivity rates in the region, doctors and local leaders warned that now is not the time for residents to let their guard down.
“We must all continue to be cautious, vigilant and very careful,” said Dr. Stanley Marks with Memorial Healthcare System.
They’re encouraging people to enjoy the weekend but to do so safely in order to avoid a spike of the virus like after Fourth of July festivities.
“We must again continue to work towards ensuring that we are keeping the spread down,” said Broward County Mayor Dale Holness.
“We’ve been quarantining and living different for so long,” tourist Norbert Jurkiewitz said. “We’ve been bringing sanitizer, bringing disinfectants, spraying the hotel down and things like that.”
A couple who flew into South Florida from New York are well aware of the worries health officials have about how the busy nationwide travel weekend increases the risk of spreading COVID-19.
“It’s definitely a concern. I think it’s been a concern for the past half a year, and it should continue to be a concern,” the man said.
Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said the city has ambassadors encouraging everyone to wear a mask.
“People have to follow this very simple rule,” he said. “At the end of the day, we’re trying to police visitors. We’re trying to be polite, but we’re giving tickets
Meanwhile, local restaurants like Casa Sensei on Las Olas Boulevard are expecting a busy few days with more traffic than usual.
“We’ve been planning for this, and we’re ready to go,” said Barbara Cohen-Bertoncini with the popular dining spot.
Cohen-Bertoncini said they are prepared to keep guests safe while making sure they enjoy themselves.
“We wear our masks, we wear our gloves. We’re constantly wiping down our doorways,” she said.
But Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony said it’s the private house parties that have him concerned.
Over the weekend, deputies will be making the rounds and making sure large backyard gatherings are following the rules.
“Are they in compliance? Are they doing the things inside the parties where we don’t have to have the concern of shutting it down?” said Tony.
Doctors said it’s possible South Florida could still see a spike in COVID-19 infections.
“Every time we get together, we give the virus the opportunity to transmit from one person to another,” said Dr. Yvonne Johnson at South Miami Hospital.
For those who do choose to enjoy themselves out in public, business owners are asking them to observe safety guidelines.
“It’s very important for us to see that our guests take this as seriously as we do,” said Cohen-Bertoncini. “We want to make sure that this is a distant memory in our lives.”
Code enforcement officers are expected to stop by local businesses to ensure everyone is following the rules.
Anyone with questions and concerns about the coronavirus can call the Florida Department of Health’s 24-hour hotline at 1-866-779-6121.
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